For what it's worth, Phil Jackson liked the way Al Thornton played
And who can blame the Zen Master, given how the rookie from FSU racked 24 points (including 4-5 from distance), five rebounds and a block in his role off the bench? Unfortunately, Thornton's also employed by the Clippers, so I'm not quite sure how much good that praise does anybody. Certainly not much for the Lakers, who played a collectively awful game in their 112-96 loss to the Clippers. Jackson spoke well of Jordan Farmar's play (19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and had a few nice words for Andrew Bynum (16 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block), but all in all, he didn't dig what just about everybody else brought to the box score. "I just didn't like the way we played tonight at all," admitted the coach in rather blunt fashion. "I don't know how you guys felt about it, but it wasn't very much fun to be there watching that performance tonight."
Well, if you're sincerely curious about my opinion, Phil, I concur with that assessment.
Jackson lamented his squad's propensity for handing the rock to their opponents (22 turnovers in all), a habit personified in heaviest fashion by Kobe Bryant. The Mamba was more gardener snake this evening, coupling an off-night shooting with a gaudy seven turnovers during sixteen opening half minutes. He didn't play at all during the second half, but there's no reason to think of this as a "benching." PJ just wanted to get an extended look at some of the younger guards. Still, he wasn't pleased with his superstar's performance. "I thought Kobe was trying to do a little bit too much. couldn't make the basket, so he had to make (the pass) to the assist. It's like hockey sometimes. You move on to the next guy that makes the assist." Similar to how Kobe needs to believe in his teammate's ability to score upon giving them the opportunity, the same principle applies to a faith in their ability to set the table. "He has to trust his teammates to make the plays rather than being the sole playmaker."
One guy who did have a nice night playmaking (as well as putting the biscuit in the basket) was Jordan Farmar, who's also enjoying the opportunity to run with the rock. "I love it. It's great for me. Trying to put pressure on the defense, on the guards, they're backpedaling. We have guys that can run and shoot." He also returned some props Jackson's way, appreciating how the man with nine rings and little to prove is willing to adapt his strategy a bit, rather than just stick to his bread and butter (cut into triangular-shaped sandwiches, of course). "It was unexpected coming into training camp, since it's one way for so long" admitted Farmar. "But it showed me a lot from his perspective, that he's trying to win. He's trying to make changes, defensively and offensively to use our talents that we have with this ball club and just let us do what we do best. That shows me a lot, when a coach that's been so successful doing it one day and still has the ability and the willing nature to change and try to make it best for his team. I've learned a lot and gained a lot of respect for him."
I asked Farmar if learning such a precise system as the triangle (as basically this entire unit has) helps guys learn to stay in control while going a little more balls to the walls. "I think so. I think it gives us a lot more responsibility as push guards. You know Kobe's doing it with the first unit and myself coming off the bench taking the second unit. It puts a lot of responsibility in our hands to control tempo and make the decisions."